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VR locomotion (virtual reality locomotion)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

VR locomotion is technology that enables movement from one place to another (locomotion) within a virtual reality environment. Locomotion through a virtual environment is enabled by a variety of methods including head bobbing and arm swinging, as well as other natural movements that translate to in-game movements.

 A few examples of VR locomotion:

Artificial locomotion involves the use of controllers to navigate through an environment. One problem with that method is that it tends to cause VR sickness by creating a discrepancy between what the user detects through vision and what the movement-related systems within the inner ear detect.

For teleportation, another method of VR locomotion, the user might point to their desired destination and click a button to automatically move there. In room-scale VR, for example, the user might come to the physical limits of the room and then choose to teleport to a different virtual location.

Omnidirectional treadmills provide a surface that allows users to move naturally within a restricted area while the platform moves to conform to their direction of travel to enhance the illusion of unconstrained movement.

Redirected walking allows people to move freely through a cleared space, using various mechanisms to accommodate to the space’s boundaries. For example, Tekton Games developed one such system, Walkabout locomotion, in which players freeze the environment when they reach boundaries. The players turn around but unfreeze the game from the perspective of where they stopped, continuing on in a virtually extended space.

Unobtrusive and natural-feeling locomotion is one element required for immersive VR, to help users engage fully with the virtual environment.

This was last updated in May 2018

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